Carter Jonas
Carter Jonas

MPs call for major reform of flood risk management

A recent Commons environment and rural affairs committee has commented in a report that a major reform of the flood risk management system is required if the UK is to be protected against future incidents.

The report states there should be a UK floods supremo, new flooding and coastal boards and a rivers and coastal authority, with more robust long term planning, and is by far the toughest report published to date criticising current measures.

A notable outcome for rural landowners was the recommendation by MPs for floodwater to be stored on agricultural land and expressed the view how the current system in place by the Environment Agency is failing to protect and plan against flooding, especially with regards to protection for homeowners in affected areas.

A solution presented by the Committee was for the Agency to be stripped of its current powers, with responsibilities handed to regional new bodies, to be known as regional flood and coastal boards, to organise regional delivery of national plans, in partnership with local groups and authorities. It would also involve the creation of a new English Rivers and Coastal Authority, taking on current Environment Agency roles. This would include introducing tougher rules and responsibilities on house builders and stricter standards on repairing homes.

The committee's chairman, Neil Parish MP, said: "We propose a radical alternative to the current fragmented, inefficient and ineffective flood risk management arrangements.

"Our proposals will deliver a far more holistic approach to flooding and water supply management, looking at catchments as a whole. Flood management must include much wider use of natural measures such as leaky dams, tree planting and improved soil management. And some areas of farmland should be used to store floodwater."

Other recommendations within the report include catching water in the uplands to prevent floods lower down the catchment, as has already been demonstrated in Pickering in Yorkshire. The proposals include incentives for farmers to store floodwaters on their land and recognises the detrimental impact urban development has had on farm land and farming practices, accounting for 70% of UK land use, which must be addressed.

MPs also recognised the timing of the report in light of the Brexit vote, where MPs see a chance for reform in farm payments agreed under a new subsidy regime, which should prioritise incentives to buffer flooding.

This is a welcome step in the right direction where MPs are focusing on the needs of the rural economy during Brexit agreements. By shifting focus from the centre and empowering the regions to adapt their own local plans, there is a stronger chance the needs of local rural and farming communities are met. 

Tim Jones

Tim JonesFRICS

Partner - Head of Rural Division

Tim is head of the firm's Rural Division and of the Cambridge office, although he spends a considerable amount of time in London.  He has over 20 years experience in advising institutional and pri...

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